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Old 09-16-2008, 06:41 PM   #1
Croker
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Seeming lack of UK content - disappointing!

Hello, all.

Sorry to have my first post as a bit of a downer, but I'm really dismayed by the seeming lack of ebook content in the UK.

Now, doubtless some of you will be quick to say that there's a lot of content. There is, in a numerical sense...but by God, I've not been impressed the variety of it so far.

I am extremely enamoured of the Sony PRS-505, and would love to get one, but I think Waterstones' selection of ebooks is frankly poor. At the moment, I'm not sure I could justify shelling out £200, when so few books I already own and would like to purchase in ebook form, or new titles I fancy, are available.

I don't wish to generalise, but I'm not keen on reading Star Trek novels or obscure fantasy/horror series, thanks. Nor do I want to read "The Other Boleyn Girl", which seems to be in every bloody ebook store I visit!

I'm of course aware that this is in part a subjective issue - there's a lot of content not to my taste - but I have to ask when (if ever) more varied stuff is going to come.

Take the following example - my girlfriend and I both loved the Reader when we saw it in Waterstones. We also love to travel. Here, we thought, was something we could make incredible use of when we're away. Resolving to buy one each (!) if we could find ebook equivalents of most the paper books we owned, off we went. A few hours later, we both admitted defeat after furiously checking many different book titles to see if ebook versions existed.

As a Michael Marshall (Smith) fan, I was pleased to see that you can buy The Straw Men in ebook form, but not the next two books in the series, which strikes me as spectacularly pointless. Also, arguably his biggest and best novel, Spares, is entirely unavailable. Ditto for One of Us and Only Forward, two wonderful and (as far as I can tell) popular novels.

Where, as an example, is an ebook version of The Beach by Alex Garland? It was hugely popular, as I recall, and keen travellers like my girlfriend and I loved it. Well, I can get hold of a pirate copy, but no legal ones. Ditto Shantaram, a great non-fiction book about an escaped Australian convict's time in India (pirate version, but no legal ones).

Hell, the 505 (or other ebook reader for that matter) would be ideal for the Rough Guide series - all the holiday info you need in a truly portable form...particularly handy if, for example, you're going to India, Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia & Laos on the same trip. Are you really going to carry all those Rough Guides with you? No...but you could easily do so on a Reader. So, can you get any of them in ebook form, then? Well, you can, direct from Rough Guides...so long as you are planning on going to the continental US, London, Italy, Spain or Greece, by the looks of things! With respect, my personal experience is that these are places that are much easier to navigate and get around than those I listed above, and where a Rough Guide is nowhere near as useful as it is in, say, South East Asia or South America (where it becomes almost invaluable).

My girlfriend and I even considered buying the books we wanted and then converting them to ebook format ourselves, but what a hassle that would be!

Am I forlornly hoping that things will improve in this regard any time soon? After all, it's a vicious circle, surely - not enough of the "right" sort of content means not enough people buy the readers, which means demand drops, which means less content is released, etc etc etc.

Why can't they just push the content hard for a while and see what happens? Honestly, I actually want to spend money with these companies and they seem determined to put me off!

Sorry that my first post has developed into such a rant - I'm just so, so disappointed at the situation thus far that I can't help but feel it's an opportunity missed.

I'll welcome any corrections, opinions, or whatever, but I have been looking hard for some of these titles, and if I haven't found them, it only serves to underline another point - that we need a more cohesive place to go to buy titles.

Would love to hear your views/advice.

Thanks

Croker
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Old 09-16-2008, 07:00 PM   #2
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Waterstone's is not the only place where you can buy ebooks. Take a look at fictionwise or Books On Board. They all stock new stuff, and you can even get rid of the DRM if you download in LIT format. You can also download all sorts of free books from places like this forum, feedbooks, manybooks, munseys and there's more free books on gutenberg than you could read in several lifetimes.

There's more than one way to skin a cat.
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Old 09-16-2008, 07:47 PM   #3
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I think you'll find that the next few years will see massive growth in the number of books available. There's just no excuse for publishers not making their entire catalogues available as ebooks.

At some point I suspect the piracy issue will raise its head as well. If popular books aren't available as ebooks then the pirates will start stepping in to fill the void. This will hopefully make publishers more eager to make their back catalogues legally available.
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Old 09-17-2008, 02:11 AM   #4
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Sorry that my first post has developed into such a rant - I'm just so, so disappointed at the situation thus far that I can't help but feel it's an opportunity missed.


I agree i feel specially miffed after just looking at what is available for the iliad


Bob Thomas
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Old 09-17-2008, 02:36 AM   #5
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Bob,

Take a look at Fictionwise. It is trivial (literally the work of a few seconds) to take any book in LIT format (Microsoft Reader) and convert it for the Sony Reader.
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Old 09-17-2008, 03:57 AM   #6
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Waterstone's is not the only place where you can buy ebooks. Take a look at fictionwise or Books On Board. They all stock new stuff, and you can even get rid of the DRM if you download in LIT format. You can also download all sorts of free books from places like this forum, feedbooks, manybooks, munseys and there's more free books on gutenberg than you could read in several lifetimes.

There's more than one way to skin a cat.
I agree that there's more than one way to skin a cat. Fictionwise and Books on Board were both sites I'd already visited before signing up here. Anyway, as an example, do Fictionwise or Books on Board stock the Rough Guide to Thailand? No. Any Michael Marshall Smith? Well, Books on Board has "The Servants", 3 versions of "The Straw Men" (the first part of a trilogy, for crying out loud - none of the sequels are there!) and "The Intruders". All of these are good novels, but not his best - his best are nowhere to be found.

I do take your point about Project Gutenberg having lots of free books to read, but I'm a fan of modern fiction...and whilst I enjoy many classic (and thus out of copyright and free) books, a copy of The Count of Monte Cristo isn't going to help me find a good hotel in Bangkok, is it? Imagine if you went into a normal bookshop and said "Hello, I'd like to buy the Rough Guide to Cambodia", and the shop assistant said "No, we don't stock it. Why not buy Jerome K. Jerome's 3 Men in a Boat instead?" If I'm a fan of a particular book, and I want to buy an ebook version of it, then I'm not really going to be satisfied by the knowledge that lots of free books other than the one I want are available.

Content is king - and to my mind, there simply isn't a broad enough selection thus far. As I said, I'm aware at least part of this is subjective, but I don't feel particularly catered to by the ebook market so far...and that doesn't look likely to change for some time.

Coming back to there being more than one way of skinning a cat - we don't need lots of ways to skin a cat, we just need one good way of doing it!

By the way, I'm not worried about converting formats (although I think the casual, less tech-savvy buyer would be)...I just don't think there's enough of the right stuff out there to convert.

Hope this clarifies my position somewhat.

Last edited by Croker; 09-17-2008 at 12:05 PM.
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Old 09-17-2008, 04:04 AM   #7
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I agree that there's more than one way to skin a cat. Fictionwise and Books on Board where both sites I'd already visited before signing up here. Anyway, as an example, do Fictionwise or Books on Board stock the Rough Guide to Thailand? No. Any Michael Marshall Smith? Well, Books on Board has "The Servants", 3 versions of "The Straw Men" (the first part of a trilogy, for crying out loud - none of the sequels are there!) and "The Intruders". All of these are good novels, but not his best - his best are nowhere to be found.

I do take your point about Project Gutenberg having lots of free books to read, but I'm a fan of modern fiction...and whilst I enjoy many classic (and thus out of copyright and free) books, a copy of The Count of Monte Cristo isn't going to help me find a good hotel in Bangkok, is it? Imagine if you went into a normal bookshop and said "Hello, I'd like to buy the Rough Guide to Cambodia", and the shop assistant said "No, we don't stock it. Why not buy Jerome K. Jerome's 3 Men in a Boat instead?" If I'm a fan of a particular book, and I want to buy an ebook version of it, then I'm not really going to be satisfied by the knowledge that lots of free books other than the one I want are available.

Content is king - and to my mind, there simply isn't a broad enough selection thus far. As I said, I'm aware at least part of this is subjective, but I don't feel particularly catered to by the ebook market so far...and that doesn't look likely to change for some time.

Coming back to there being more than one way of skinning a cat - we don't need lots of ways to skin a cat, we just need one good way of doing it!

By the way, I'm not worried about converting formats (although I think the casual, less tech-savvy buyer would be)...I just don't think there's enough of the right stuff out there to convert.

Hope this clarifies my position somewhat.
Unfortunatley, this is the state of things at the moment, since e-books is still considered to be in it's infancy so to speak. Problem being that books are released in the cycle of Hardback->Paperback->(Maybe) e-book.

The point being that it seems like most publishing companies doesn't believe in the digital form of book distribution as of yet. Hence, there will be a shortage of e-books for the forseeable future. Until there are enough e-readers sold that it's financialy sound to release a book in digital format. Audio-books is getting there. e-books haven't quite yet.

At least thats my idea of how it works at the moment. Feel free to shot me down
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Old 09-17-2008, 04:08 AM   #8
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Unfortunatley, this is the state of things at the moment, since e-books is still considered to be in it's infancy so to speak. Problem being that books are released in the cycle of Hardback->Paperback->(Maybe) e-book.

The point being that it seems like most publishing companies doesn't believe in the digital form of book distribution as of yet. Hence, there will be a shortage of e-books for the forseeable future. Until there are enough e-readers sold that it's financialy sound to release a book in digital format. Audio-books is getting there. e-books haven't quite yet.

At least thats my idea of how it works at the moment. Feel free to shot me down
No need to shoot you down - at least, not from my point of view! You're stating what I already suspected, to be honest.

What do people advise, though? Is it still worth snapping up a reader? I say this because I don't really think that I can cope for very long without a electronic copy of "Spares" or "Only Forward"...!

You also mention the financial aspect, which I touched on in my first post. My concern is that we never get to a stage where enough Readers are sold to make releasing more ebooks financially sound. People will refrain from buying Readers at the moment (IMO, of course) because the content isn't varied enough. So, ebooks won't be getting sold. If ebooks aren't getting sold, then who's going to invest more in that market? As I said earlier, it's a vicious circle, and the only way to break it is to go big in terms of releases and hope that the public follow (and I'm confident that they would).

Will anyone have the guts to do that, though? I doubt it.

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Old 09-17-2008, 04:09 AM   #9
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Croker,

I take a slightly different stance to yourself, in that I don't ask "is book X available in eBook format?" but "are there sufficient eBooks available which do interest me to make it worthwhile having an eBook Reader?" and the answer to that latter question is (for me) that there are several lifetimes worth of such reading available which interest me. Books which aren't available in eBook format I continue to buy as paper books.

The range of titles available as eBooks is rapidly increasing - there are hugely more now than there were a couple of years ago, for example.
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Old 09-17-2008, 04:16 AM   #10
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Croker,

I take a slightly different stance to yourself, in that I don't ask "is book X available in eBook format?" but "are there sufficient eBooks available which do interest me to make it worthwhile having an eBook Reader?" and the answer to that latter question is (for me) that there are several lifetimes worth of such reading available which interest me. Books which aren't available in eBook format I continue to buy as paper books.

The range of titles available as eBooks is rapidly increasing - there are hugely more now than there were a couple of years ago, for example.
Oh heck yes, totally agree with you there, even tho that new e-books being released is still slow and just a trickle compared to the p-book releases, there is still enough e-books available to motivate the buying of an e-reading device, at least as far as I am concerned. Sure, I might not be able to get the latest book by <AUTHOR>, but I can usually pick up books I really want to read anyway.
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Old 09-17-2008, 04:18 AM   #11
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Croker,

I take a slightly different stance to yourself, in that I don't ask "is book X available in eBook format?" but "are there sufficient eBooks available which do interest me to make it worthwhile having an eBook Reader?" and the answer to that latter question is (for me) that there are several lifetimes worth of such reading available which interest me. Books which aren't available in eBook format I continue to buy as paper books.

The range of titles available as eBooks is rapidly increasing - there are hugely more now than there were a couple of years ago, for example.
Harry - I do take your point, and as I said above, it's in part a subjective issue, so what you and I see in the ebook market may naturally differ.

I suppose my issue is that I maybe haven't hit a magic number of ebooks in which I am genuinely interested thus far. Some of the market is frustrating, though...like the Michael Marshall Smith example I cited above - parts of a trilogy are not available. I would honestly rather they didn't release them at all than do that!

I guess I need to take another look at the market and see if there's enough there for me. At the moment, I'm genuinely unsure as to whether there is or isn't.
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Old 09-17-2008, 11:38 AM   #12
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I take a slightly different stance to yourself, in that I don't ask "is book X available in eBook format?" but "are there sufficient eBooks available which do interest me to make it worthwhile having an eBook Reader?" and the answer to that latter question is (for me) that there are several lifetimes worth of such reading available which interest me.
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Old 09-17-2008, 12:31 PM   #13
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Hmmmm. I must say, more of the books I want are available for the Kindle...but I much prefer the look of the PRS-505. Now, is there any way to buy Kindle books and use them on a Sony Reader (through conversion, or whatever)?
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Old 09-17-2008, 12:47 PM   #14
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Hmmmm. I must say, more of the books I want are available for the Kindle...but I much prefer the look of the PRS-505. Now, is there any way to buy Kindle books and use them on a Sony Reader (through conversion, or whatever)?
Unfortunately Amazon does not deign to sell to anyone who does not have a kindle registered to their Amazon account.

If you did have a kindle, bought books from Amazon, you may be able to read some of them on you sony if you are willing to strip of the DRM using Mobi DeDRM scripts(as Amazon .Azw files are just renamed .mobi books. Their .tpz/.azw1 books unfortunately cant be stripped as far as I'm aware) and run it through something like Caliber.
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Old 09-17-2008, 02:20 PM   #15
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Unfortunately Amazon does not deign to sell to anyone who does not have a kindle registered to their Amazon account.

If you did have a kindle, bought books from Amazon, you may be able to read some of them on you sony if you are willing to strip of the DRM using Mobi DeDRM scripts(as Amazon .Azw files are just renamed .mobi books. Their .tpz/.azw1 books unfortunately cant be stripped as far as I'm aware) and run it through something like Caliber.
I suspected as much - well, I'm not shelling out $350 for a Kindle...I really don't like the look of them at all.

It seems that an enterprising character with a Kindle could place orders for books people wanted, remove the DRM, and send them on to the buyer, who would then pay them the cost of the book - a little like the system I saw proposed here before the Reader was released in the UK, to help people get books from Sony's US Connect store.

However, doubtless this will draw frowns for being illegal!
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